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vision14k
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First time bringing our almost 2-year old on a cruise - Freedom of the seas 4-day. Was wondering if any parents out there have a good packing list and any tips to make it a success!?  We are staying in a balcony cabin.  Thank you!

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3 minutes ago, vision14k said:

First time bringing our almost 2-year old on a cruise - Freedom of the seas 4-day. Was wondering if any parents out there have a good packing list and any tips to make it a success!?  We are staying in a balcony cabin.  Thank you!


Not too difficult on a 4-day cruise - we took a toddler on TA without any problems, fortunately we had an inside family suite so plenty of room.

 

Have you tried the Family cruise board for tips and advice?

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/28-family-cruises/

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The room walls are all metal, and Shutterfly occasionally has sales where custom magnets only cost 1 each.  My kids loved rearranging the magnets all over the room when they were little.  

 

My two year old was crazy strong, and could open the balcony by himself on the Coral Princess, so make sure the balcony door is always locked from the top if there is a top lock.

 

On the first breakfast, go to the buffet and bring back fruit, yogurt and cereal to the room so when your kid gets hungry you always have easy snacks on hand.  

 

Please note the following ships have splash pads for children who are still in swim diapers so you are in good shape this cruise:

 Adventure, Allure, Anthem, Freedom, Harmony, Independence, Liberty, Oasis, Ovation, Odyssey, Quantum, Spectrum, Symphony and Wonder. 

 

Your two year old will be eligible for drop off care, but it used to cost 6 per hour (not sure of current cost) and the availability is more limited than the kids club.  Other parents should note the following ships do not have drop off nurseries for kids under 3:  Jewel, Adventure or Explorer of the Seas®.

 

Please note that for 2 and 3 year olds, some will have trouble with separation so they may or may not be able to go to a nursery or kids club.  You can't depend on a break at this age.  Hopefully it will happen (the RC kids club staff is excellent) but it can't be depended upon.

 

If you find you like cruising please note that:

-Disney and most RC ships offer a fee based nursery

- MSC has a baby club for ages 0-3

- Carnival and Cunard allow 2 year olds to participate in free drop off care.

Prior to covid, Princess let parents of children under 3 stay in the kids club with them (you couldn't drop off but if you stayed they would take care of your kids.  You'd need to check if they still allow this).

 

 

My biggest recommendation for families traveling on cruises would to take be private tours if you are doing more than just going to the beach.   A two year old waiting for 50 people to board a ship excursion bus isn't a good situation, so please find a private tour on either cruise critic's destination board or TripAdvisor.  If you can afford it a private tour for just your family is your best bet.  You need to be careful about checking cancelation policies for private tours, especially if you ever take your kids on NCL (as far as I know RC only cancels ports when it is necessary so you don't need to worry as much on RC  but bad weather can happen anywhere).   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by kitkat343
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We bring every medicine we have and things we need when the little one might be sick. Snot sucker, thermometer, Bluetooth otoscope, nail trimmers,/buffers. Lots of diapers and wipes with extras. Bring some favorite toys and books but not many. Also their blanket or sheet and stuffy. Bring some of their favorite snacks along with drink and snack cups and kids sized utensils. Ziploc bags are also huge. Battery operated nightlight,  sound machine are also good if they're used to those. 

 

Sleeping wise at that age I would not count on finding a crib/ pack and play big enough for them so you'll need to make alternate plans. We have brought our own full size pack and play in the past and also tried our best to build a safety barrier around a sofa bed. 

 

They will have an absolute blast running around the room and my kids were both overly fascinated with trying to get into the bathroom so watch out for those doors. 

 

Plenty of things to do on the Freedom and you will probably see the other parents pretty quickly at the early hours. Early stroller walks are great and the Cafe opens up pretty early. The water play area is more than enough for them and my kids loved the little pool chairs they have. Also outdoor kids movies were a hit.

 

The crew are always great with the kids. The AO/RBT staff is awesome too. You'll hear a lot from crew members missing their loved ones back home. 

 

Plenty of things to do in the Bahamas. We've taken the local bus to the zoo in Nassau a couple times then eaten at the fry and also hit Junkanoo Beach. Last visit there was a day pass at the British colonial that gave us some nice easy beach time they loved. 

 

Cococay the zero entry pool, kids Waterpark and the pirate ship are favorites. 

Edited by death_star
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Bring more kids clothes than you need. Things will get wet, things will get messy, and the only self-serve laundry you have will be a tiny bathroom sink. Consider packing outfits in large ziplock bags: you can put wet or messy clothes in them to take home without ruining your luggage.

 

Do not assume that the sandals that fit your child in August will fit them in January.

 

Pack too many diapers. Make peace with the fact that you have packed too many diapers. The ship will require them if you want to take him in the baby splash zone. The towel station probably has some, but it might be easier to know in advance what size you need.

 

Bring diaper cream, bring children's tylenol, bring plenty of sunscreen.

 

Prepare for snacking! You can absolutely take bowls and plates from the buffet into your kitchen, but you'll want ziplock bags to sneak cheerios onto the beach. (No, it's not allowed. Everyone does it anyway.) Bring an extra sippy cup or two. If you'll be giving the kiddo milk, bring a tiny bottle of dish soap to wash your cups out.

 

The buffet is easier in some ways, but it's actually nice to have full-service dinners. (Unless you enjoy getting up sixteen times every meal to fetch things.) If you're interested, and you don't want to eat late, reserve your dining time ASAP.

 

They ceilings are magnetic - you can get magnetic hooks on Amazon for surprisingly cheap. On the advice of someone on the boards, I brought a shower curtain and used it to rig up a divider between our bed and the kids' bed. Ours seem to have an easier time falling asleep when they can't see Mom and Dad do exciting things like reading books or hanging up swimsuits. Magnetic hooks are also great for hanging up swimsuits and such from the ceiling.

 

Space will be in short supply, especially if your kiddo is big enough to need the sofa bed. Consider bringing your smallest stroller, your smallest car seat. (You don't need one of the expensive fits-on-a-plane strollers, but don't bring the jogger that takes up as much space as an armchair while folded.) Personally, I wouldn't bring sheets or blankets unless your child is especially precious about them.

 

The kids club will let you check out a small bag of toys to take back to your room. However, they will charge you if you lose pieces. My two year old dropped at least one car off our balcony on our most recent cruise. Because it was a $0.50 hot wheels car and not a $50-to-replace cruise-owned component, we didn't have to drop everything and rush down eight floors to retrieve it from the deck.

 

Do you drink wine? Royal will let you bring two bottles on board. A glass of wine on the balcony during nap is really nice. You can also carry drinks down from the bars to your room, but it's more expensive and less relaxing.

 

If you have some sort of hearing protection for the child, you might want to bring it. The shows are usually family-friendly, but volume tends to cater to the "I saw the Beatles live when I was your age" crowd. You might get to enjoy something together, instead of leaving with a screaming child or being stuck in your room in the evening.

 

There's plenty of stuff you could bring. A shovel and collapsible bucket for the beach? Inflatable bolsters to keep your kid from rolling out of bed? Fun magnets, so you can pick your door out of the rows of identical cabin doors? Honestly, you don't need most of it. Be patient, and accept that you won't be able to do as much as you would have pre-kids. And bring extra diapers.

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  • 3 months later...

Lots of excellent tips!  I'll add a few more: 

 

- I saw a really smart family boarding right ahead of us on a recent cruise:  The dad was pulling a collapsible wagon filled with two toddlers and the family's numerous carry-ons.  The mom walked behind carrying a baby and watching to see that the boys didn't escape the wagon.  I'm sure they used the wagon to wheel the kids off the ship for island stops too.  

- It seems most kids' swimsuits tend towards blue.  My daughter only allows my grandson to wear red, orange, yellow or neon colors in the water.  It makes him easy to spot, even in ocean or lake water.  I totally support her in this safety rule!  

- When my kids were small, I used to make homemade coloring books before vacations or other events (even things like a trip to the dentist or Christmas at their aunt's house).  I'm no artist, so they were nothing special, but the books gave my kids a clear vision of what was go happen ... I'd make pages about packing our suitcase, about the long drive to Florida, about using our best manners in the dining room or riding the elevators, etc.  As we colored them, we'd talk about what it'd be like and what I expected of them.  They always behaved better when I took time to do this.  

- We also practiced ordering an appetizer, an entree and a desert at home.  The kids thought that was great fun.  The wait staff in the dining room go above-and-beyond for kids.  Once -- back when we still did traditional dining -- we had a waiter who brought a plate of cookies for each child at the table to take back to his or her room.  On another cruise, my youngest was going through a shy phase and wouldn't speak up to say what she wanted for dessert -- the waiter said, "No problem.  I'll bring you the Shy Girl Special."  It was a brownie, ice cream and chocolate syrup served in a fancy glass.  She felt special and was much more willing to speak up at later meals; my other three girls were jealous and started asking for the Shy Girl Special.  

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On 9/6/2023 at 4:05 PM, DadPerson said:

Prepare for snacking! You can absolutely take bowls and plates from the buffet into your kitchen, but you'll want ziplock bags to sneak cheerios onto the beach. (No, it's not allowed. Everyone does it anyway.)

Processed foods, which cannot introduce any unfortunate elements into the island's ecosystem, are allowed.  So Cheerios, pretzels, granola bars, cookies, etc. are perfectly fine.  

On 9/6/2023 at 4:05 PM, DadPerson said:

Bring an extra sippy cup or two. If you'll be giving the kiddo milk, bring a tiny bottle of dish soap to wash your cups out.

Shelf-stable "juice box type" milk is also a good choice.  It'd be smart to have your toddler try it out at home, as toddlers aren't known for their love of trying new foods.

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One more thing: When our kids were small, we used to bring glow sticks ... the kind you can buy at the Dollar Store ... for them to take to bed at night.  They give off enough light to keep kids comfortable in an unfamiliar bed /even enough to go to the bath room at night, but not enough light to disturb others. 

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